July 12th, 2007
And today, Steven and David talked about tempera painting in the Renaissance, using voicethread again.
July 12th, 2007
Yesterday, Professor David Drogin (a colleague from FIT) and I recorded a voicethread about images of David in the Renaissance — primarily looking at them from the point of view of patronage. Boy do I love voicethread!
July 6th, 2007
Yesterday I worked on the smARThistory web-book, basically just taking audios and video files that we created for the blog and for our online courses, and uploading them to the approprate pages. It became clear that the most successful things we have done — by far — are the screen captures.
We did them the usual way. Basically, we just created a slideshow — using something like ARTstor’s offline image viewer (a terrific tool) or powerpoint (actually accumulating the right images takes longer than it sounds, especially for two fussy art historians), and then used Camtasia to capture our conversation — often with our now-far-away (we miss him) colleague, Eric Feinblatt. We used the cursor as a pointer while we talked about the image — indispensable!
Then, while browsing yesterday, I also came across at a tool discussed on the Academic Commons website (great article there by Heather Berrins by the way on distance learning), called Zentation. I was a little seduced at first — it allows you to do web-based video and a ppt easily at the same time, and it automatically creates markers or chapters. It could add a little personalizing to my online course — if they could see me lecture while listening and watching the slides go by.
But then I remembered — who wants to see a talking head after a while? Our screencasts work so well because we are having a conversation. Sure, a video of me talking would add some intimacy, but beyond that what are the pedagogical advantages? It’s still a lecture after all, and it is still all instructor-based, without the possibility for interaction. Boring…
And then someone clever sent me a link to voicethread. Wow! We have been waiting for so long for a tool that would allow image annotations (I have taken to googling this about once a week to see what turns up). Voicethread allows you to draw on an image you have uploaded and then leave a text comment or — better yet — a voice comment. There was a tool I found a while ago that had potential called YackPack — where you can record and leave audio messages for groups you are in (or chat with them synchronously), it’s a very cool, very visual tool. In fact, it deserves another serious look for education purposes (especially foreign languages). But we are art historians, and we need to talk about pictures — and we need to be able to point to specific parts of an image, and mostly, we need our students to be able to do that too. Flickr works, but the invitation part got quite cumbersome, and anyway there is no voice.
And then — voicethread… wow! The interface is much simpler than Flickr — the drawing tool is easier than leaving notes on an image. You draw as you talk, and it creates this lovely slideshow, where one drawing over the images disappears as you do the next one. You can change pen colors, you can upload images from Flickr, you can make the image public or private, zoom in on an image, moderate comments, and control the permissions easily. Overall, it seems remarkably perfect. Were they mind reading…?
Now to get it ready for my students. Do I make the site public? Should I do it by invite? How hard will the assessment be?